On the contrary, the middle class has faced unemployment over the last few years, and for many, this has been a struggle for families. Unemployment has enabled class mobility in a negative direction, removing families from the particular designation of middle class. Families remaining in the middle class live paycheck-to-paycheck, so the loss of that consistent source of income combined with the difficulty of replacing a middle class job could lead a family into poverty. For many middle class families, debt is a way of life, and allows people to “afford” a living that appears to be like their neighbors'.To work towards the solution of eradicating poverty in the United States, the two authors want to see President Obama or whoever receives the office after the next election set up a conference on the issue. They would like to see the government move forward with a massive job program, investment in education, and abandonment of austerity policies. It's hard not to compare Smiley and West with their hero, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The issue of poverty of worthy of as much attention as the civil rights movement received in the 1960s. Where the comparison fails is that Dr. King had the ability to foment a revolution. The public, for the most part, saw civil rights as an important issue. The time was right, with a public ready to be involved, empowered to force a change. Dr. King took his message to the streets; Smiley and West are taking their message to the streets, selling a book, and charging admission to their talks. For poverty to become the lead story in a system that pays attention only to the issues prescribed by those with money, there needs to be an uprising, a revolution. An apathetic public without the feeling that the issue of poverty is personally relevant will not rise up. There might be a thought that the Occupy-branded protests show that the public is ready to support a major issue like civil rights was in the 1960s, but I don't think it's ready yet. The Occupy-branded protests are too small and too unfocused to make the necessary impact. If Smiley and West want to influence the way Americans think about poverty, they'll need to take a page from Dr. King's book, and do a better job of getting people to care about the issue and see the value of change.
The pair also appeared on Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report recently for an entertaining interview.